2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Texans, with Watt and Clowney, await Falcons

By CHRIS DUNCAN - AP Sports Writer
    2014-08-15 16:19

HOUSTON (AP) - J.J. Watt feels as if he gets asked about playing with Jadeveon Clowney every day.

When the Texans selected Clowney with the top overall pick, they instantly created what on paper looks like one of the league's most formidable pass rushes. Watt is one of the game's most disruptive forces and Clowney was similarly dominant at South Carolina. Clowney is moving to outside linebacker in Romeo Crennel's 3-4 defensive scheme.

The two showed a glimpse of what they could do on the second play from scrimmage in last week's 32-0 loss in Arizona, with both charging in from the right side and Watt sacking Carson Palmer. Watt downplayed how much to read into the play. The Texans weren't doing anything complicated, and Watt wasn't even paying attention to where Clowney lined up.

''Everyone makes a real big deal out of it,'' Watt said, ''but I didn't notice that he was outside of me, so it's just one of those things. You're playing football and some people make a bigger deal on a lot of things than it really is out there.''

Watt played only one series against the Cardinals. With Watt out, Clowney shed a tight end and tackled Stepfan Taylor behind the line. Other than that, the Texans didn't show much against the Cardinals.

Starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played the entire first half and completed only six passes with two interceptions. The Cardinals' offense, meanwhile, had their way with Houston's defense, compiling 407 yards and going 11 for 17 on third downs.

O'Brien started the week with a morning film session before Monday's practice, and he saw marked improvement in joint practices with Atlanta this week. The Texans and Falcons play on Saturday night.

Help could be on the way for the Texans on Saturday. Running back Arian Foster, receiver Andre Johnson and linebacker Brian Cushing returned to practice on Wednesday after long layoffs, although O'Brien wouldn't promise that any of the three would play against the Falcons.

Watt and Clowney surely will play after giving valuable looks to Atlanta's reshaped offensive line in the combined practices. Protecting the passer was a major issue for the Falcons last year, and they drafted tackle Jake Matthews and signed guard Jon Asamoah to shore up a front that allowed 44 sacks of Matt Ryan in 2013.

''In this league, you want to keep your quarterback standing up and that was one of our No. 1 goals going into this offseason was to improve our pass protection,'' Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. ''Working against a good defensive line definitely helps us prepare for the regular season.''

The Falcons and Texans started last season with Super Bowl aspirations and finished as two of the league's biggest disappointments.

Atlanta showed more promise in its preseason opener, beating Miami 16-10. Ryan and the first-team offense scored a touchdown on their only series, going 77 yards on 15 plays, and the defense held Miami to 109 yards and five first downs.

Ryan had one of his most productive seasons in 2013 despite the problems around him, completing 67 percent of his throws and a career-high 439 passes.

''The won-loss record wasn't what you would want it to be, but I thought Matt had a really good season, showed a lot of resiliency,'' Smith said. ''I think it helped him grow as a player and as a person. He's become more vocal and we need for him to be a vocal leader and this is Matt Ryan's football team.''

Smith was noncommittal when asked if receiver Julio Jones would play in Houston. Jones is recovering from surgery on his right foot. He practiced Wednesday but not Thursday.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Alameda Ta'amuDec 21 07:42p

The Arizona Cardinals have declared DL Alameda Ta'amu, OG Anthony Steen, WR Brittan Golden, SS Chris D. Clemons, QB Drew Stanton, OG Jonathan Cooper, DL Kareem Martin inactive for Week 16.

Chris MatthewsDec 21 07:32p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared WR Chris Matthews, DL Demarcus Dobbs, WR Kevin Norwood, C Max Unger, OT Russell Okung, TE Tony Moeaki, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 16.

Ahmad DixonDec 21 11:52a

The Minnesota Vikings have declared SS Ahmad Dixon, LB Anthony Barr, OT Carter Bykowski, OG Charlie Johnson, TE Kyle Rudolph, CB Shaun Prater, FB Zach Line inactive for Week 16.

Devier PoseyDec 21 11:52a

The Houston Texans have declared WR DeVier Posey, TE Garrett Graham, LB Jason Ankrah, S Josh Aubrey, LB Mike Mohamed, QB Tom Savage, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo inactive for Week 16.

A.J. KleinDec 21 11:52a

The Carolina Panthers have declared LB A.J. Klein, OG Amini Silatolu, CB Carrington Byndom, OT David Foucault, RB DeAngelo Williams, DL Kyle Love, SS Robert Lester inactive for Week 16.

Charles GodfreyDec 21 11:52a

The Atlanta Falcons have declared CB Charles Godfrey, LB James Anderson, OG Jon Asamoah, CB Ricardo Allen, QB Sean Renfree, DL Stansly Maponga, LB Tyler Starr inactive for Week 16.

Jamarca SanfordDec 21 11:52a

The New Orleans Saints have declared SS Jamarca Sanford, DL Lawrence Virgil, LB Moise Fokou, WR Seantavius Jones, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, OT Terron Armstead, RB Travaris Cadet inactive for Week 16.

Justin BrownDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Clifton GeathersDec 21 11:52a

The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared OG Chris Hubbard, DL Clifton Geathers, CB Ike Taylor, WR Justin Brown, QB Landry Jones, TE Matt Spaeth, SS Troy Polamalu inactive for Week 16.

Carl BradfordDec 21 11:42a

The Green Bay Packers have declared DL Bruce Gaston, LB Carl Bradford, CB Davon House, C Garth Gerhart, WR Jeff Janis, TE Justin Perillo, QB Scott Tolzien inactive for Week 16.

Chris McCainDec 21 11:42a

The Miami Dolphins have declared LB Chris McCain, OT Dallas Thomas, RB Daniel Thomas, CB Don Jones, WR Matt Hazel, OG Nate Garner, WR Rishard Matthews inactive for Week 16.

Arthur BrownDec 21 11:42a

The Baltimore Ravens have declared LB Arthur Brown, DL Casey Walker, CB Chris Greenwood, C Gino Gradkowski, WR Michael Campanaro, OG Ryan Jensen, DL Terrence Cody inactive for Week 16.

Aaron MurrayDec 21 11:42a

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared QB Aaron Murray, RB Charcandrick West, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, CB Marcus Cooper, DL Nick X. Williams inactive for Week 16.

Gary BarnidgeDec 21 11:42a

The Cleveland Browns have declared OT Andrew McDonald, TE Gary Barnidge, RB Glenn Winston, CB Joe Haden, DB K'Waun Williams, WR Rodney Smith, OT Vinston Painter inactive for Week 16.

Chris ConteDec 21 11:42a

The Chicago Bears have declared FS Chris Conte, QB David Fales, OG Kyle Long, PK Robbie Gould, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott, DL Will Sutton inactive for Week 16.

Dakota DozierDec 21 11:33a

The New York Jets have declared OL Dakota Dozier, SS Jaiquawn Jarrett, QB Matt Simms, FS Rontez Miles, DL T.J. Barnes, WR Walter Powell, OG Wesley Johnson inactive for Week 16.

Alfonzo DennardDec 21 11:33a

The New England Patriots have declared CB Alfonzo Dennard, OG Dan Connolly, RB James White, OT Jordan Devey, WR Julian Edelman, CB Kyle Arrington, RB LeGarrette Blount inactive for Week 16.

Anthony CollinsDec 21 11:32a

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have declared OT Anthony Collins, FB Evan Rodriguez, CB Isaiah Frey, DL Lawrence Sidbury, RB Mike James, WR Robert Herron, WR Solomon Patton inactive for Week 16.

Kelvin BenjaminDec 21 11:22a

Carolina Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin won't face Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) Sunday, Dec. 21, who is out with a shoulder injury.

Joe HadenDec 21 11:22a

Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden (shoulder) is out Sunday, Dec. 21.

Julio JonesDec 21 11:22a

Atlanta Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip) is active Sunday, Dec. 21.

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DeMarco MurrayDec 21 10:12a

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Zach ErtzDec 20 07:42p

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Philip RiversDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers (back) is active Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:22p

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20, for Week 16.

Ryan MathewsDec 20 07:12p

The San Diego Chargers have declared LB Cordarro Law, DL Damion Square, CB Greg Ducre, WR Keenan Allen, P Mike Scifres, DL Ryan Carrethers, RB Ryan Mathews inactive for Week 16.

Carlos HydeDec 20 07:12p

San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde (ankle) is inactive Saturday, Dec. 20.

Ahmad BrooksDec 20 07:02p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared LB Ahmad Brooks, OG Andrew Tiller, RB Carlos Hyde, OG Joe Looney, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Tramaine Brock inactive for Week 16.

DeAndre HopkinsDec 20 06:42p

Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) will be a game-time decision Sunday, Dec. 21, after not practicing all week.

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New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman (concussion) has been ruled out for Week 16. Edelman didn't receive final clearance from the concussion protocol to play Sunday, Dec. 21.

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